A Role for the Insular Cortex in Long-Term Memory for Context-Evoked Drug Craving in Rats
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AbstractDrug craving critically depends on the function of the interoceptive insular cortex, and may be triggered by contextual cues. However, the role of the insula in the long-term memory linking context with drug craving remains unknown. Such a memory trace probably resides in some neocortical region, much like other declarative memories. Studies in humans and rats suggest that the insula may include such a region. Rats chronically implanted with bilateral injection cannulae into the high-order rostral agranular insular cortex (RAIC) or the primary interoceptive posterior insula (pIC) were conditioned to prefer the initially aversive compartment of a 2-compartment place preference apparatus by repeatedly pairing it to amphetamine. We found a reversible but long-lasting loss (ca. 24 days) of amphetamine-conditioned place preference (CPP) and a decreased expression in the insula of zif268, a crucial protein in memory reconsolidation, when anisomycin (ANI) was microinjected into the RAIC immediately after the reactivation of the conditioned amphetamine/context memory. ANI infusion into the RAIC without reactivation did not change CPP, whereas ANI infusion into pIC plus caused a 15 days loss of CPP. We also found a 24 days loss of CPP when we reversibly inactivated pIC during extinction trials. We interpret these findings as evidence that the insular cortex, including the RAIC, is involved in a context/drug effect association. These results add a drug-related memory function to the insular cortex to the previously found role of the pIC in the perception of craving or malaise.